Canal Istanbul and Political Dispute on Turkish Straits

Canal Istanbul and Political Dispute on Turkish Straits
Ceyhun ÖZÇELİK1, Kader BENLİ2*

1 Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Civil Engineering Department, cozcelik@mu.edu.tr, Orcid No: 0000-0003-4111-2562

2 Ege University, Civil Engineering Department, PhD Candidate, kaderbenli48@gmail.com, Orcid No: 0000-0002-7768-6317

Turkish Straits -- Dardanelles and Bosphorus -- are one of the most important passages of maritime transportation of the world. Connecting Black Sea countries to Mediterranean Sea and world, these natural sea passages are not vital only for economy and security of Black Sea and Mediterranean countries but also for the future of the region and world peace. They are one of the most dangerous and difficult to cruise seaways with powerful streams, sharp routes and high traffic. The president of Turkey started in 2011 to a disputed campaign --Canal Istanbul-- to bypass Bosphorus for shipping safety. Because of its size and possible impacts on environment and international politics, the project is called as “Crazy Project”. However, the main political dispute is around Montreux Convention, which regulates transits of merchant and war vessels. Combined with Chinese Maritime Silkroad, Canal Istanbul sounds to have a potential to influence world dynamics. Regarding available technical information, political views and international legislations, this study reviews the Canal Istanbul Project in an integrated way of its economic, environmental, engineering and socio-political impacts. Near and future results of the project on the country’s and world’s maritime trade and politics are discussed from engineering, sociologic and political perspectives. The project may have immense impacts on both Black Sea Countries and the countries wish to use the straits and canals, especially on world leading powers. Amendment of Montreux Convention may spark a wide scale international conflicts for regional transportation, maritime trades and naval forces. Therefore, an international consensus should be established for any changes on the regulations related to transits of both merchant and war vessels, for the safeguard of Turkish straits and Black Sea.

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